Name of Chuck; Charles actually. Charles Sherwood Stratton.
I guess his parents thought it an homage. They would almost certainly have to have been related to the famous man.
“…gen…ge…”, Chuck tried to say.
“What’s that?”, I ask. The dwarf is nearly dead, his voice but a papery whisper.
“General Tom Thumb.” And he died.
Right. General Tom Thumb. Should have guessed – he was a lot harder to kill than his brother. Though, in point of fact, it was not me that killed Tom Thumb.
We had been eating manok pansuh ruas in the longhouse when Tom Thumb made a mistake. He took out a small digital camera and, under the guise of shooting a few snaps of the villagers, surreptitiously got a couple of pics of me. Which might have passed without even comment.
If it weren’t for the babies.
The Dyak are not as they once were. They are no longer take heads, for example; the government of Borneo slaughtered so many of them for it that they finally gave up the pastime. But they have some customs that, deep in the jungle away from the ever prying eyes of the government, they simply will not abandon.
Photographing a baby while in the longhouse means death. It’s that simple.
Several of the men stood and loosened their parangs from the sashes that function as belts for their dirty sea-pants. A couple of men had nyabors. All were waiting for the tuai rumah to nod his assent, which he would surely do.
Over my right shoulder Karl was nattering on the way he does..
“A lot of people beat up on me; my attitude is, you know, I know who I am. I’m not the myth that I’ve been developed into and there’s nothing I can do…I’m like Grendel and Beowulf.”
I half turned on the wood plank to look. In the high corner of the longhouse, at the open end facing the lagoon, a TV complete with a pair of rabbit ears [tin-foiled to better focus the rays, so there you, silly schizos], showed Turd Blossom’s smug and smiling face.
Someone off-camera mentioned the Congressional subpoena. Rove responded.
“It’s not between me and Congress. I’ve not asserted any personal privilege…this is between the White House and Congress…(it’s about) the ability of the president to receive advice from senior advisers and for those senior advisers not to be at the beck and call of Congress for testimony.”
Even these remote villagers knew Karl had diss’d Congress, didn’t even show up for his hearing. They laughed at the TV now.
I need to talk with Karl.
I stand over General Tom Thumb and watch as his blood pools on the ruai.
The villagers have gone back to eating, talking, and playing with the little ones. Thumb’s wallet bulges out of a denim covered chunk of meat that used to be attached to his legs. I lean over to delicately snag it; I’m not a big fan of gore. But the wallet is stuck and my tugs keep moving his ass further and further away from his torso and legs. It’s almost comical – a dwarf yo-yo. Finally the rawhide comes free.
I find one picture, perhaps from a vacation? The dwarf I killed in Ushuaia is there and he has his arm around General Tom Thumb, a big smile on his face. There’s a beach in the background, maybe Ushuaia, maybe Cannes. In the dwarf’s other hand is what looks to be a matchbook.
Tom Thumb owns a US driver’s license. Issued in Cali, L.A. to be specific. Damn it.
The villagers used their parangs on Tom Thumb so quickly – one second they’re laughing at Rove, the next blood rained like a sudden spring shower – I never saw any single blow, just the results: a hand dropped to the floor, an ear, then an arm.
It was over before either I or General Tom Thumb could comprehend it.